Mechanical Issues

Mechanical Issues

We love our Model S with the exception that in the 4 months we've had the car, it has already had a number of mechanical and electrical issues. To Tesla's credit, they have been been good at fixing. We bought the Model S with the hope that they would avoid the typical new model problems. However, from our experience, that hasn't been the case. We've had problems with the 12 volt battery, the panorama roof (three different issues), the rear windows, seat belts, paint and a few other smaller problems that seem to have resolved themselves probably thru software updates. This week the car was in the service center Monday thru Thursday, we got it back and then today, the next day, something else went wrong. So, despite how much we like the car, we are beginning to wonder if we made a mistake or should have at least waited a few more months for the bugs to shake out.

ginsbergr | 12 juillet 2013

Sorry to hear that you have had some problems and hope that your issues will be resolved very quickly. We have had our Model S since April with absolutely no problems. The car has been fantastic. With that said, we do think that there will be issues that arise since the Model S is a fairly new car built from the ground up and we are realistic and feel there will be growing pains. We have been lucky so far.

J.T. | 12 juillet 2013

I've had my car for a month and had my car in for service for two days for the recall and to replace a nose cone which was delivered with a dent. Other than that, considering I was expecting every possible thing mentioned in the forum to happen to my car, I am very pleased with everything. Like ginsbergr said expecting growing pains is part of the experience, just hope you've already experienced all you're going to have.

dirkhh | 12 juillet 2013

We bought a car that is the first of its kind - in many ways WAY out there. Of course there will be things that go wrong. Anyone who bought a TMS and didn't expect problems didn't do their homework (really? you spent $80-120k and didn't pay attention to what you bought?).

So yes, I expect problems. I expect recalls. I expect part shortages. I expect missing features (cup holders, anyone?) I expect a much much better version 2 of the car in a year or two. But I want to drive this car now. Not in two years. That's why I'll pick mine up this afternoon...

TomasT | 12 juillet 2013

@JpmModelS That's too bad. I hope all that gets resolved and you don't visit the service center for a while. I've had mine for over a month with no problems, knock on wood. (I did blow a tire on the 1st week. $375 to replace it. Ouch!)

justineet | 12 juillet 2013

Most of the issues u raised are minor staff especially for a brand new model and I won't sweat it much............

J.T. | 12 juillet 2013

@justineet it's always a minor problem when it's someone else's. lets not forget the time and aggravation of repeated service visits. OP says Tesla has been great at addressing the issues but there comes a time when you just want the aggravation to stop regardless of how minor the issue is.

dahtye | 12 juillet 2013

I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to drive such a ground breaking car early. Sure, I'm willing to live with a few issues - and I've gone through a few already:
- 12V Battery
- Creaking front end when I turn a certain way
- Windshield cracking for no reason at all

TM has been fine so far fixing these issues. I've only been to the service center twice since I took delivery in October. I'm going in once more on Tuesday to have the windshield replaced and have them rotate the tires (I'm at over 11K miles now without a rotation). I'll also have them do whatever service advisories they have available - they will look at the NEMA 14-50 and J1772 adapters for heat related issues and replace if needed. I might have them look at my keyfob for a replacement since the top button is showing signs of cutting through the outer plastic shell.

But overall, I'm pleasantly pleased with the experience and service - so far.

fridintl | 21 juillet 2013

I feel exactly the same way. Had the car since November 2012. Signature owner. It seems once a month or so something is always going wrong. The low profile tires were the number 1 issue. 2 trips to NY resulted in 3 flats and no less than 5 bent wheels and 1 bearing replacement. I don't know how that is possible so many bent wheels. The car is now being serviced aagain after a tow truck picked it up. I think my third tow now. Car died in my driveway. Other issues since November - battery, charge port,door handles - replaced all tires with 19 inck rims, hopefully that is better, blue tooth and can't remember what else.
This time I think it;s air conditioning related. Spending 6 figures i am still on board, problably because I beleive Elan is doing the right thing. i just hope that sll the kinks are being worked out after going through the one year cycle.

AmpedRealtor | 21 juillet 2013

While Consumer Reports gave the Model S 99 out of 100 possible points, it gave the car a "not recommended" rating due to a lack of reliability data. I'm sorry if this suggestion may upset some, but I think Consumer Reports needs to know about these issues because a lot of people will be basing their purchase on CR's recommendations. I hope those of you who are having both good and bad reliability experiences will take the time to communicate those experiences so that CR can have as much data available in order to give the Model S the appropriate recommendation.

@ fridintl - the kind of problems you experienced should not be tolerated one bit, I'm sorry but no excuses for Tesla on this kind of stuff. Yes, it's a new car and they are ramping up, startup company, blah blah... but it's your money that was spent, your time that is being wasted waiting for service, and you are not getting what you paid for which is the ability to drive this car. Most people are not getting Model S loaners, but instead are having to drive ICE vehicles. That completely negates one of the main advantages of having bought a Model S.

We need to hold Tesla's feet to the fire - not to make their lives difficult but to help them get better. If their customers don't hold them accountable, eventually the negative experiences are going to build to a crescendo and then you will see one negative media report after another. Before you know it, Model S will be a stigmatized vehicle and Tesla will suffer as a company. The best thing owners can do is complain - and do it loudly - so Tesla gets the message and can improve.

Look at the incredible steps Musk took after that NYC article. According to Elon's All Things D interview, the only reason why he responded to the Broder article was because it cost him many orders in the northeast part of the country. The only way a company responds is when its bottom line is being impacted, so that is how you get Tesla's attention quickly.

JPPTM | 21 juillet 2013 when CU sends you the Annual Survey as a subscriber/member, just fill it out to the best of your ability, and let the results speak for themselves. | 21 juillet 2013

I don't mind seeing complaints and getting a feeling for possible issues. What is really hard to get a picture of is how prevalent any specific problem is. It's unusual for any car (at any price) not to have a few problems. You're mixing thousands of parts together, and it's truly amazing how few problems do occur on modern cars.

For myself, in 6 months, the only significant issue - a door handle wouldn't open the door, was replaced. The 12V battery was replaced and some window clips added at Tesla's request, but they never gave me any problems.

Only when we get an independent survey, like Consumer reports (for
April 2014), will we get an indication of the how many customers actually run into these problems. Too bad it's so far away. I also get the feeling each month that goes by the product gets better and better.

andrigtmiller | 21 juillet 2013

I am getting close to 5,000 miles on my Model S, and so far have had no issues. Like anything that is mass produced, you can get wide variations in quality from the manufacturing process. As Telsa attempts to improve the gross margin on each vehicle produced, issues will surface. That is not to excuse the company, but mass producing automobiles efficiently is much harder than people realise. Hopefully, we will see them work out all the issues and achieve the 25% gross margin target. If they don't they will have a tough time remaining profitable.

napacab | 21 juillet 2013

12,000 problem free miles since I picked up my P85 in January.

robkal007 | 21 juillet 2013

12,250 miles and only software issues (fixed with updates) and the 12volt battery replacement. Sorry others are not having as good an experience. I thought of this purchase as an early adoption or "beta" test and have bought the 4 year warranty and plan to buy the four year extension - I usually never buy product insurance, but this is a special case. Just finished 225 mile drive to Santa Barbara and back - what an amazing car! Tomorrow in for the 12,000 mile checkup and wheel rotation.

J.T. | 21 juillet 2013

@robkal007. I believe what you bought is the 4 year service plan. The 4 year warranty comes with the car. Thre is a 4 year extension for the warranty which, if you purchased it by July 3, would have been $2500. Now, it's $4000.

2-Star | 21 juillet 2013

Probably wrong thread, but someone asked me today how many miles I had put on my new MS in the (almost) week I've owned it. I thought I could use the Tesla iPhone app to answer the question, like I could see the current battery range. No such luck. It would be a wonderful improvement to help encourage new buyers.

PBEndo | 21 juillet 2013

My Ms was delivered in March and is currently in the service center for the 3rd time, mainly to fix the original problem.
My car was delivered with a small "wrinkle" in the paint on the hood. When it was returned after the first service, I was told the hood had been replaced with a new one. However, this was clearly not true, since the "new" hood had far more issues with the paint (more than 5 separate problems) than the original problem. In addition, while repairing/replacing the hood, the paint on both fenders was damaged. So it went back for repairs of the hood and fenders. When it returned, one fender and the hood looked good but the other fender was still not right, in the exact spot of the repair. I pointed it out to the delivery specialist immediately and he acknowledged that the problem had not been fixed satisfactorily. I am amazed that apparently nobody looks at the "repairs" to see if they are done correctly. Currently it is in the Dania service center for the 3rd attempt at fixing the problem that they caused trying to fix the first problem. I realize that they probably contract with a local body shop for paint work, but the Tesla service manager should have caught these problems the first 3 times before I had to point them out. They were obvious.

I understand taking some risk when being an early adopter of new technology, but paint is the oldest technology on this car. I have tolerated, even expected, problems with the bluetooth, door handles, sunroof, etc. I should not have to worry about paint.
I am also frustrated that even if they get it right this time, I will have a $100K car that has parts that have been repainted 3 times.

J.T. | 23 juillet 2013


At this point I would send an email to Jerome or to George and explain the situation to them. After three tries (and you've been patient) you need to go over their heads.

Good Luck

earlyretirement | 23 juillet 2013

I'm really sorry to hear about these problems. I'm sure quite frustrating after spending so much money on the car.

Did Tesla give you a loaner car to use each of the times you had your car in the shop?

Also, for you new owners, does JD Power send you a survey to fill out a few months after you buy the car like they do with other new cars that you buy? I typically always get a survey to fill out 2 months after I buy a new car.

I don't think the fact that it's new technology or a new company should ease the fact that these problems are happening. I think if you don't have a problem it's great but for those that do have constant problems it would be frustrating and troubling after spending so much money.

It sounds like so far Tesla is doing the right thing and fixing the problems. But do they always give you a loaner to use when problems like this happen?

hamer | 23 juillet 2013

So I'm close to 5000 miles, and I've had a recurring mechanical issue with my charge port not releasing the cable as it should. I have always been able to get it to release it by starting charging again and then stopping charging and then pressing the button on the UMC, or by starting charging and pressing the button, or by some other similar method. They tried various things (loaning me a new UMC for example) and then a few weeks ago replaced the charge port which cured the problem until a couple of days ago when it recurred, and after a bunch of playing around, the charging display in the car had "Unlock Charge Port" and I pressed it and got the UMC to release. That has now occurred exactly once since they replaced the charge port.

A couple of weeks ago when I opened all the windows to let the car cool down after parking it for the first few seconds, the right rear window would not raise. I drove it to the Tesla Service Center; they gave me a loaner car, got parts, replaced them, and gave the car back a couple of days later.

However, as a statistician, I have to remind us (is that terrible English or what) that we are not seeing the denominator. When we see self-reported problems on these forums that is not a survey. We have no ides what problems, if any, the owners who do not report the problems on these forums are experiencing, if any. So I would not know how to generalize from the reports of those who have had problems are.

AmpedRealtor | 23 juillet 2013

Does anyone remember Apple's "antennagate" with the iPhone 4? I certainly do. The forums were flooded with hundreds upon hundreds of people claiming to have issues. Apple finally addressed the issue after Consumer Reports released the results of its tests. According to Apple, fewer than 1% of iPhone 4 units sold had actually complained to Apple about the problem. So at least in that case, the internet hoopla was far larger than the actual problem.

RedShift | 23 juillet 2013

I had the issue with charge port not releasing. Was embarrassing to say the least, coz there was an impromptu party at my house to celebrate my new car. My friends wanted a test drive, but I didn't know the 'charge port open' button existed on the main screen that time. Took the car in for service, and the UMC started behaving correctly after malfunctioning just once at the repair shop. (Of course!)

No major issues since then.

PBEndo | 23 juillet 2013

@earlyretirement - The first time my MS went in for service I got a Nissan Altima loaner. The other times I received a MS P85. It is very nice to have them bring a $100K+ loaner to your home and take you car away on a flatbed for service (Though I worry it sends the wrong impression to the public when they keep seeing my car towed. The car runs just fine!)
Frustratingly, the first MS loaner was exactly the same color as mine. I wish they would have just swapped the hoods in my driveway!

I have suggested they allow a transfer of settings (seat/mirror/creep/steering/homelink/slacker/FM presets/bluetooth) from you car to the loaner. I assume this would be possible, maybe via USB, though maybe it wasn't planned for. It would be vary impressive to hop in the loaner and have everything just the way you like it.

Each time I have had the loaner it has been for 10+ days. It gets a little tiresome living without my HOV sticker, the remote app access, the slacker stations I set up, my homelink, etc.
I guess have been spoiled by my Tesla.

ChristianG | 23 juillet 2013

So every 100th car having problems is acceptable? what about all the people who just live with the problems? As for apple, they sell millions, so if 1% is complaining they had over 100,000 calls of unhappy customers.

What's worse with Tesla, is that you can't really send your defect car to tesla by via mail. Their service centers are houres away for some (a bit over an houre for me), so bringing it there and getting it back will be almost a whole day lost. Stories of waiting for parts for several weeks don't really help in that case. But being from Europe it does add quiet a bit of fear.

So I don't think that it's ok that the car needs to go the service center several times after delivery until it works and looks as intended.

Brian H | 23 juillet 2013

I expect 1% is a serious exaggeration, and becoming more so with time.

Vevans2 | 23 juillet 2013

I have almost 5000 miles on our S and have not had any problems except for the decal on the passenger side. I pointed this out when I took delivery and it is on order and will be replaced soon. Fortunatly I have not had anything else to report. I charge it and drive it. Tesla Model S 40/60 Black Pano everything else stock.

AmpedRealtor | 23 juillet 2013

1% failure rate seems pretty good to me because that equals a 99% success rate. Isn't that an A+ according to any standard? What car maker ships fewer than 1% of its cars with defects or service issues? Or putting it another way... a 1% failure rate means that you have a 99% chance of getting a vehicle without issues. I'd say those are pretty damn good odds.

L8MDL | 23 juillet 2013

Tesla's failure rate is well above 1% as that would only be around 100 total problems for the cars they have produced so far. So the $100,000 car fails at a greater rate than the $400 phone, as does every other vehicle in production.

xradr | 23 juillet 2013

I've never been so happy not to be in the 1% (haha). 7500 miles and very minor bugs and issues that were fixed reasonably quickly. Overall, I'd say my experience has been well above average.

For OP, so sorry that you're having so much trouble. Seems like might be good to take jtodtman's suggestion and email a little higher up the chain. There is one thing that I'm really confident about with TM, they will keep working to resolve the problem.

Jewsh | 23 juillet 2013

On our car there's one panel with a pretty rough fit (a bit of deflection), the rear passenger side door's window could roll down a tinge more when opened and there's a bit more play to the trim at the top of the frunk than we think is alright. (Maybe it was designed to work that way, who knows.)

In all though the car is working very well for us - no real issues so far!

Christianjacques | 23 juillet 2013


you are complaining about flat tire and damage rims , nothing to do with the constructor it s more you way to drive.

low profile tires are low profiles tires doesn t matter what car you are driving, they are fragile and you shoudn't drive you S as a SUV

eAdopter | 23 juillet 2013

@AmpedRealtor +1
We need to keep TM's feet to the fire. I've read too many stories on this forum about owners who were not treated well.

Personally, my car had a major HV battery failure in the first three weeks. TM Service staff handled it very well, however, good experiences don't erase bad ones. For example:

TM increased the Extended Warranty price before ever giving WA owners an opportunity to purchase it for $2500. This is simply wrong and there's no excuse. TM refuses to correct the situation by allowing WA owners to purchase the warranty for $2500 when it later becomes available.

TIre wear and alignment issues. What other company tells customers that 3000-4000 miles is a "normal" tire life, and that tires should have extreme inner-tread wear? TM should fix these cars and provide new tires at no charge, retroactive for everyone who experienced the issue.

Buyback guarantee. Widely promoted but only available in 8-10 states. TM website still ignores this fact and promotes it as available to everyone.

Financing. Ditto, 8-10 states. And the rate that you receive is directly related to which TM Rep you get when calling. I was offered a 2.49% rate by three TM staff, then 1.99% by a different person an hour later when I called back. Something this important shouldn't depend on who we speak to.

I understand that some of these things are out of TM control, but I think TM should both stop promoting them, and make amends to individual owners to compensate for any inconvenience.

PBEndo | 26 juillet 2013

I finally got my MS back. So far, the main problems I had (sunroof and paint) appear to finally be resolved. I'll need to inspect the paint in some bright sunlight to be certain, and I'll need a few more days to see if the sunroof wind noise has been solved permanently, but things are clearly looking better at the moment.

Since tone is often misinterpreted in online messages, I would like to make it clear that I love Tesla and I love the Model S. Though my service experience could have been better, the Dania service center did seem to be truly interested in making things right. Getting the MS loaner helps lower the frustration level too. I even called the local talk radio show yesterday to tell them how great the MS is and to offer the hosts a test drive.

That being said, there is a point where great customer service cannot make up for lack of results. I hope my experience has taught somebody at Tesla to make sure they actually fix the problem instead of just being eager to fix the problem.

I don't have experience with repainted cars, but I assume if it was done right I should not expect any problems down the road.

I was hoping to see a drop-in center console in my car when it was returned. A console-ation prize, if you will, for the troubles, but no, it was not to be.

stsanford | 26 juillet 2013

2600 miles on mine and here the the issues I wanted to bring up at my next service visit:

Passenger Door – Hard Close (intermittent)
Driver’s side of dash doesn’t mate up with side panel well. Lots of deflection. As if there is a tab that hasn’t been “snapped in”.
Bluetooth Sound Quality (fixed with .61 update)
17" fan running constantly. (fixed with .61 update)
Replace the UMC (feels weird under the sheathing and has had a history of running quite hot) Again, seems to have resolved. checked with a laser thermometer and during charging it was at 137 degrees F.
Turning the steering wheel at slow speed generates some scrubbing / groaning sounds from the front tires / wheels.
Paint blemishes on Rear Right flank
Scratch under handle of driver’s door
Moisture / Condensation in passenger side tail light reflector inboard..

NONE of these were enough to have me keep my service appointment on Wednesday... little things... The car is amazing and impresses with it's strengths.

lt | 26 juillet 2013

My car has been in the shop 3 times to fix the same creaking roof. Latest repair is still on going - in the shop for six weeks!

Starway2001 | 26 juillet 2013

My Audi lease doesn't come due until December 2015. By that time I'm hoping that the Model S' construction issues have been resolved to the point that I can feel comfortable with the purchase.

I'm also hoping for other features to be added like parking sensors, rear camera guidelines and possibly folding mirrors.

Keith72 | 26 juillet 2013

4 months with my car and only a couple of minor issues.
- Tire sensors had to be recalibrated to get the light to turn off
- Passenger door would not open from the outside after a couple of weeks and the handle was replaced
- Water leaking into the tail light housing - fixed twice, first repair didn't hold. May still have a problem here, but had to leave the country on business and will address when I get back home. Both lights seem to now have water leaking inside.

Tesla picked up the car rather than have me drop it off again when the first repair for the tail light didn't fix the problem. I was expecting them to drop me off a loaner, but the flat bed arrived empty. When I queried the technician he simply said the loaner was already out, took my car and drove off leaving me without a car for the day. Since this wasn't an emergency repair, I could have waited until they had the loaner available and had them come back and get my car. If it needs to go back again I will make sure to let the scheduler know not to schedule my car until they can bring me the loaner.

Otherwise I love the car, great to drive and I still have the Tesla grin every time I get behind the wheel.

Captain_Zap | 26 juillet 2013

Sorry to hear about issues like you mention. Since they are still ramping up the production line there might still be some things that are being tweaked or new staff that is afraid to speak up.

Frankly, since I ordered my car a very long time before I saw anything besides a beta, therefore, I chose to not get the pano roof. I imagined that it would be the achilles heel of a new product on a new product line. The fact that I live where sunroofs, etc. end up being problem prone to disuse solidified that decision.

I had a bad wi-fi antenna at first and the passenger door needed an extra tug to close. They fixed both those items right away.

No other problems other than a hung up update that had to be removed and replaced. But I was one of the early recipients of that, so they were able to fix it quickly.

Those are all faint memories. I've had 9 months and 10k miles of fun ever since.

Brian H | 26 juillet 2013

Shoulda told the tech he couldn't have your car until he came back with the loaner!

Keith72 | 27 juillet 2013

Brian H,
Yeah, I thought about doing that, but I'm retired and my wife's Camry Hybrid was available later in the day, so it wasn't a big deal to just move a couple of things around on my schedule. If they do it to me again, I'll definitely send him away without my car.

wcalvin | 27 juillet 2013

To assist readers in when to worry, one might include the month your car came off the line. And for service per se, which Service Center.

fridintl | 29 juillet 2013

I got my MS back after 8 days in service. No loaner nothing. car died in my driveway apparently due to a clogged drain tube.( Air conditioner)I am sure there was more. In any case, 8 days waiting for this fix is totally unaccepptable
To the commment about I shouldn't drive my car like an SUV - Perhaps I should stay away from driving on the Long Island expressway or the Brooklyn- queens express where all my flats occurred. Perhaps the Bronx expressway would be a better alternative??. I am driving on NY roads like everyone else, including my previous Mercedes for 7 years SKL-320, result one flat in 7 yeasrs hitting s metal piece on the road. Tesla service in Queens, NY is on my side, NY and Low provile tires do not go together.(Busy place replacing tires) 19" rims with much more rubber between the wheels and road seem much more logical around here. Did anyone else experience flats in NY with their MS? and shouldn't we have been warned beforehand about this.

Brian H | 29 juillet 2013

Observe the value of reading the forums first. Anyone who spent even an hour reading posts about tires and wheels knows that the low-profile tires suffer terribly on bad roads. Suitable only in states that actually do some road maintenance.

docsurs | 19 Janvier 2014

I got my silver Model S85 a months now. I love the car. I do have water condensation on rear reverse tail lights and water leaking on the passenger left side window after car wash. I brought it to SC in Rocklin for service yesterday. The tail lights were replaced, the left rear passenger window was adjusted and sealant placed. The car was delivered to me after it was washed. To my surprise the water condensation was still there. I immediately brought it to the attention of the service advisor and I was told that the lights assembly has vents and that the condensation will go away after some time. I know this can't be right? Later that day, I was shocked to see there is an ugly 5 inches long white silicone like sealer placed on top of the left passenger window moulding between the roof and chrome trim where the leak is. This is unacceptable. I washed the car again anyway at the touch-less car wash and the leak is still there. I recalled the service advisor mentioned to bring the car back in for service if the window leak persist. I am not satisfied with the remedy for the problem thus far. I will get back with the SC for another day of service. I did however get a loaner Jaguar for the day since they are out of Teslas. Any suggestions or comments will be appreciated.

J.T. | 19 Janvier 2014

If this is not remedied to your satisfaction get the regional service manager involved. I can say for certain they will keep fixing it until you're happy, but it takes persistence.

Bighorn | 19 Janvier 2014

The condensation by the rear tail light is actually under a clear trim piece that is contiguous with the rear Tesla logo. There is a plastic piece underneath that that tends to lift it and break the seal. Remedy is to remove and shave down the plastic piece and re-apply. Water is not getting into the tail light either way.